News Abortion

Oklahoma Senate Passes Bills to End Judicial Bypass, Invade Patient Privacy

Robin Marty

Anti-choice Oklahoma legislators are already working to make abortion as physically invasive as possible. Now they are upping their game by making it personally invasive, too.

Oklahoma officials refuse to accept a court ruling that the state’s Food and Drug Administration protocol law for supplying RU-486 is unconstitutional, hoping that by backdoor banning medication abortion in the state they can force more pregnant people to undergo the more invasive, surgical procedure, if not force them to give birth.

But Oklahoma lawmakers don’t just want abortion to remain physically invasive. They want it to be as emotionally invasive as possible too. To that end, the legislature has taken a two-pronged approach with this year’s anti-choice legislation; they’re seeking to severely limit a teen’s access to abortion, even with the permission of a parent or guardian, and also forcing patients to give over as much personal and confidential information as possible in a clear violation of patient (and doctor) privacy.

Both “parental consent” bills proposed for 2013 have now passed the Oklahoma senate and will head back to the house for final approval. One bill will forbid a teen to access judicial bypass for parental consent from any judge but the one in her own county, while another will forbid any bypass unless the teen was impregnated by her own family member. The combination of bills would also make it impossible for the teen to get consent from a parent or guardian without a legal, valid photo ID.

Oklahoma has long been an incubator for bills meant to test the constitutionality of extreme anti-choice legislation, and this year is proving to be no different. State Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) told the Associated Press that of the roughly 1,000 abortions performed on teens in the state each year, only about 20 obtain judicial bypass. By adding in the photo ID requirement as well, abortion opponents make it clear that their mission isn’t to ensure that pregnant teens talk to their parents about abortion, but to block them from accessing the procedure at all, even with permission. “We do not have a court that is rubber stamping abortions for minors,” Johnson told the AP. “I’m very suspect why we have to bother something that is not broken.”

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While two of the bills are intended to force teens to give birth, the third is an attempt to increase the burden on doctors who perform abortions. The state already requires regnant people to supply a plethora of information before an abortion, ranging from demographic details to reasons she wants a termination (including whether or not she knows who impregnated her), but with the new bill doctors would also be asked to add their own private information to the database, including the type of abortion method performed, what type of medical practice the physician specializes in, where he or she has admitting privileges, whether the sex of the fetus was determined, and what happened to the fetal remains.

The additional reporting requirements head to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

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